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A House for Spies
A House for Spies

A House for Spies

SIS Operations into Occupied France from a Sussex Farmhouse


288 Pages, 6 x 9.5

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $32.95 (US $32.95) (CA $36.95)

Publication Date: August 2011

ISBN 9780709090151

Rights: US & CA

Robert Hale (Aug 2011)

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This is the story of the bizarre role played by Barbara Bertram in the Second World War. From 1941 to 1944 she provided board and lodging in her Sussex farmhouse to men and women of the French Resistance who, acting as intelligence agents for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), were flown by moonlight in and out of Tangmere aerodrome by RAF Lysander pilots. Barbara's husband was a conducting officer for the SIS and his house, Bignor Manor, near Petworth, was deemed to be the perfect undercover stopover for agents waiting for their flight into occupied France. As well as Barbara's experiences, which included sewing suicide pills into the cuffs of agents who requested it, the book follows the mixed fortunes of the Lysander pilots and the agents themselves, several of whom were captured, tortured and killed in their efforts to get German military intelligence back to the UK.


"It kept me up at night as I wanted to know what happened to all the various characters, [brought] so admirably back to life" – Russell England, director of BBC documentary Operation

"Mincemeat. Utterly fascinating, very moving and funny. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more" – Hugh Grant, actor.

Author Biography

Edward Wake-Walker is the great nephew of Barbara Bertram. The son of a Royal Navy officer, he was educated at Marlborough College and Aix-en-Provence University before joining the staff of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in 1975. He has travelled extensively representing the RNLI as their PR director, and he has also published five books on the history of saving life at sea. The actor, Hugh Grant, his first cousin, is also a great-nephew of Barbara Bertram.